I haven’t written much about this, since I have been knee-deep in the Making Learning Connected MOOC, but today is the first day of a five-week workshop program I am leading for high school students around digital literacies, remixing the web and game design. I’m a little jittery. You know that feeling? My workshop is part of a partnership between the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and a local urban school district, which got a big grant to offer up a comprehensive program to support English Language Learners this summer. There are tutorial sessions, group activities, work programs and workshops in this Summer of Power program.
I am one of the workshop leaders. Along with a WMWP colleague, who has expertise in ELL, I am going to have these high school students explore the digital worlds from a couple of angles — first, through creating avatars to represent themselves in a webcomic space and beyond; then into remixing websites with the Mozilla Webmaker tools; and then into video game design with Gamestar Mechanic. Meanwhile, I am weaving in game design from the very first week (tomorrow, we hack the game of Chess, for example). Writing will be at the heart of what we are doing — from writing in and out of the day, to storyboarding projects, to reflecting on the experience and possibilities. I am working to line up some outside visitors, too, from the field of computer programming and video game design, and I am reaching out to the Mozilla folks, too.
I don’t know the students, and I have not worked much with high school students, and the language barriers are somewhat of an unknown. Yet today, I have to give an elevator speech (15 minute presentation) six times, to six different groups of students, as they will be deciding which enrichment workshop they want to attend. I am using Prezi to present my overview, but I decided to start with a non-threatening quiz — showing icons from the gaming world and I’ll ask if they recognize them (we’ll be using a lot of visual clues this summer). There is one outlier in the mix (Mr. Monopoly) who does not originate from a video game. We’ll see if they can pick him out of the lineup.
What has me on nerves, though, is not the students, so much. Since this is not my school, I worry about the infrastructure of technology and whether things will work as I need them to work, and what kind of support I will get when they don’t. I did visit the lab last week, checked out the computers, and found a few upgrades that needed doing. The teacher there is fantastic, and she got to work on the upgrades even as I was leaving the lab. She wants it to run smooth. That’s a great sign.
I’ll let you know how it goes …
Peace (in the pitch),